I wrote this short play when I was a 16-year-old senior at Uni High.
Jack of Spades
Jack of Hearts
Jack of Diamonds
Jack of Clubs
(The curtains open to reveal a large, cluttered room. The room contains several partially filled bookcases, chairs, lamps, and other articles of furniture, off of which have been shoved in disorder against the walls. The center of the stage is clear of furniture, but is covered with scattered books and papers. On the right wall are fairly large pictures of the Jack of Spades and the Jack of Hearts, and a “Stevenson in ’52” poster. On the left wall are pictures of the other two jacks, and a poster with W. C. Fields playing poker. Centered on the back wall and coveraing all the space from floor to ceiling is the face of a Joker, as in a deck of cards. On either side of it hang long burlap curtains.
The four Jacks are seated cross-legged in various places across the stage: one on the floor in a corner, one on top of a bookshelf, and so on. They are all dressed as the cards they portray: colorful shirts which are clearly marked with their suit, tights, curl-toed shoes, and red crowns. All have hair that comes nearly to their shoulder. The Jack of Spades has a black patch over his left eye. The Jack of Hearts has one over his right.
The Jacks sit motionless in their places, looking straight ahead. After a few moments of silence, an alarm clock rings. The Jack of Spades stretches and removes the Diamond’s crown, tries it on, and puts it back. He moves to the Jack of Hearts and does the same. Then he moves to the Jack of Clubs, takes out a flintlock pistol, and points it at the Club’s head. He stands thinking for a moment, and then shakes his head and tosses the gun aside. He then rummages around the room. He finds a radio on the floor and turns it on. Rock music blares out of it. He takes an apple off a bookshelf and begins to eat it.
Soon the other Jacks begin to rock back and forth with the music. Suddenly the Jack of Hearts jumps up.)
Heart: Shut that damn thing off!
(The Spade does not move, so the Heart turns it off himself. The other Jacks stretch and stand up. All but the Spade bustle about, whistling or humming. Then they assemble themselves in the center of the stage.
Club: It’s time.
Diamond: It’s time.
Heart: It’s tiiiime!
Spade: Alright, already! (Drops the apple core and joins the others.)
Diamond: Who leads?
Club: I’ll lead.
Heart: You led last time.
Club: Then you lead!
(They push books and papers to the sides of the room and kneel in a semicircle, facing the joker.)
Heart: Hum, hum hum, hum hum.
Others: Hum, hum hum, hum hum. (They all bow low.)
Others: Hum. (They bow.)
Heart: Hail Joker, hail the Joker, hum hum. (He bows. The Diamond snickers.)
Others: Hail Joker, hail the Joker, hum, hum. (They bow. The Club begins to laugh.)
Heart: Joker, Joker, Joker, hum hum.
Others: Joker, Joker… (They start to laugh.)
Heart: Hum, hum… (He begins to laugh. They all laugh loudly and roll on the floor. Then the Club gets up and closes the curtains covering the Joker. The others stop laughing and get up.)
Spade: Well, who’s got the cards today?
Club: You had them last night.
Spade: You’re crazy! Jack said he had them!
Others (in unison): No I didn’t!
Heart: Yes you did!
Spade: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
(While they argue, an unfolded card table is lowered into the center of the stage with a rope.)
Club: I don’t know why you’re arguing. I’ve got a deck right here.
Spade: Deal, then.
(Spade, Diamond, and Heart rummage through the furniture looking for chairs. Club begins to deal onto the table, looking at all the cards as he deals and switching them from hand to hand. The others bring chairs to the table and sit down. Club clears his throat and finishes dealing honestly. They pick up their hands.)
Diamond: I hope you’re not planning on another game of whist.
Club: I’m not.
Spade: No, today we’re playing War.
Diamond: I hate War! It’s a terrible game! It’s too boring!
Spade: Well, I happen to like it!
Heart: I want to play Hearts, anyway.
Club: Today we are playing bridge. After all, that’s what I fixed the deck for.
Heart: We never play Hearts! Next time I get to deal, we’ll play Hearts all day.
Club: One spade.
Diamond: Two spades.
Spade: Three spades.
Hearts: Five hearts.
Diamond: Five hearts?! What the hell do you think you’re doing?
Club: Five no-trump.
Diamond: Joker lover! Joker lover!
Heart: What’s the matter with you?
Diamond: Joker lover!
(Heart notices that the curtains over the Joker have slid part way open.)
Heart: Psst! (He points at the Joker. There is an embarrassed silence. The Heart stands up, followed by the others.)
Heart: Hail Joker, hail Joker.
Others: Hail Joker, hail Joker. (They bow. Heart hurries over and throws the curtains over the Joker again.)
Spade: Whew! (They sit down and pick up their hands.)
Diamond: Seven diamonds.
Spade: So you’re the dummy, Heartsie.
(Spade leads, and Heart drops his hand all over the table. The game continues in silence for a few moments.)
Heart: What did you just lead?
Club: Queen of Diamonds.
Heart: The queen, the queen! (He snatches up the card.) Oh, she is so beautiful!
Club (to Diamond): Will you hurry up and play? (He takes the card from the Heart.)
Heart: She is beautiful. She always reminds me of Jill.
Diamond: OK, here’s the three.
Heart: Ahh, yes, Jill. (He stands and moves to the right.)
Spade: Ha! I take it with the Ace!
Heart: Jill, you were so beautiful. But why did you have to leave?
Club: Damn it, you took my good queen!
Spade: I can’t help it! I didn’t have anything else to do!
Heart: Why, Jill? Why did you have to leave?
Diamond: Quit taking so long and lead!
Heart: (Starts to weep) Was it that hill? Don’t you know it wasn’t my fault?
Spade: You better not trump my club, Club.
Heart: I couldn’t help it! (He falls to his knees.)
Diamond: Nine off the board.
Heart: And that pail of water! I didn’t want to get it! They made me to it!
Club: How could I trump it? I don’t even have a void.
Heart: Jill, Jill, Jill! (He breaks down completely. His crown falls off his head and breaks in two. He remains lying on the floor, and becomes silent.)
Spade (to Diamond): You can’t play that! I led a club! (He grabs the Diamond’s arm.)
Diamond: Well, then lead something else, Shovel-head! (He tries to shake himself free.)
(The Spade pushes the Diamond backwards off his chair and jumps on top of him. They begin fighting, behind and to the left of the table. Almost immediately, a phone rings. The Club jumps up and picks up a phone amid the furniture on the left side.)
Club: Lumber Jack’s Furniture Shop. (Pause) Sure, just hang on a minute. (To Diamond) It’s for you, Dimey.
(The Spade lets the Diamond up. The Diamond picks up the phone as the Spade and Club sit back down.)
Spade: Now then, where were we?
Diamond: Oh, it’s you, sir.
Club: He had just played the four of diamonds.
Diamond: Oh, yes, sir. Yes, sir. Right away, sir.
Spade: Well, let’s see what he’s got. (He looks at the Diamond’s hand on the table.)
Club: Let’s exchange a few of our hearts for his diamonds.
Diamond (angrily): Now, look here, Rex…
Spade: I’ll give you the rest of my trump, and you can give me some high clubs.
Diamond (meekly): I mean, I’m sorry, sir, but I really can’t help it if the ten refuses to let himself be played.
Club: OK, now put his hand back down and he won’t even notice it.
Diamond: I know, sir, but still…
Spade: He’s taking too long. Let’s finish this game up ourselves.
Club: Well, looks like we take everything.
Diamond: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Goodbye, sir.
Club: Who was it?
Diamond: The King of Diamonds.
Heart: (He sits up) Queen of Diamonds? Where? Where?
Spade: We set you five while you were away.
Heart: (Getting up) You can’t do that! That’s cheating!
Spade: You don’t even know what cheating is!
Heart: Look, I’ll show you. In the Holy Hoyle (he pulls out a book), The Book of Contract Bridge, Chapter 2, Verse 15: “Thou shalt not continue the game when not all of the players are present.”
Spade: Hey, we’ve got a preacher here!
Club: A regular Jack-in-the-Pulpit!
Heart: At least I’m not a Jack-in-the-Box!
Club: Don’t be so quick to call names, you diamond-back rattlesnake!
Heart: Watch out, Clubfoot, or the snake will bite you!
Spade: Heartworm! Heartworm!
Diamond: Shut your mouth, you laughing jackal!
Heart: Stupid jackdaw!
Club: Go to hell, you one-eyed jack!
Spade (to Club): Watch it, Knave!
Diamond: Jack it up, Jack!
Spade: Hijack! Hijack!
Spade: Jack Knife!
Heart: Union Jack!
Club: Jerky jock jack!
Heart: Hit the jackpot! Hit the jackpot!
Diamond: What a bunch of jackasses!
Club (to Spade): You blackjack!
Spade: A Club is a blackjack! (He raises a club.)
Club: No! No! (He runs off stage to the left, knocking over his chair. He is followed by the Spade. The Heart and Diamond continue fighting.)
Heart: I’ve had it with you and your bunch!
(A scream followed by a thud is heard.)
Diamond: I’ve been thinking of getting rid of you for years!
(Spade runs back on.)
Spade: I’ve been waiting for the day when I could get rid of you three!
Diamond: No! Back off! Back off!
Heart: You can’t do this! In the Holy Hoyle…
(The Spade launches himself at the other two. They all scramble off stage to the right.)
Diamond’s voice: Have a heart first! A heart!
Heart’s voice: Keep away, you filthy spade!
(Screams and two thuds are heard. After a moment, the Spade reenters, brushing his hands. He stops in the center of the stage and looks about. Then he goes to the wall and rips down the pictures of the other Jacks, tearing them to shreds and scattering them on the floor. He stops and looks again. Then he carefully takes down the Joker from the wall, carelessly tosses it in with the furniture, and carefully places his own picture in its place. He looks around again. Then he turns on the radio to some rock music, gets another apple and a deck of cards, and sits down at the table. He takes a bit out of the apple and begins to shuffle the cards. He deals them for a game of solitaire. All this time he has been looking quite self-satisfied, but soon he seems to realize that something is wrong. He picks up the cards and inspects the deck. Suddenly, a look of pain comes over his face. He slowly drops the cards onto the floor. Then he sits motionless for a few moments, staring straight ahead.)
Spade (slowly): You can’t play solitaire with a 49-card deck.